We Tried Popeyes's New Blackened Chicken Sandwich & It's Just as Good as the Original

Popeyes is reigniting the Chicken Sandwich competition with yet another version of its iconic sandwich.

Popeyes set a standard in the fast food industry with the 2019 debut of its viral Chicken Sandwich. In the years since, it has only continued to churn out big hits, including a Buffalo Ranch spin on that iconic sammie. But what we (the poultry-hungry carnivores with an affinity for good cajun spice) didn't know was that Popeyes has been hard at work on another version since before the original even launched. 

The Blackened Chicken Sandwich—aka a breading-free version of its Chicken Sandwich—boasts much of the same ingredients, including a toasted brioche bun, crunchy barrel-cured pickles, and a choice between classic or spicy mayo. What sets this bad boy apart from its predecessor is the chicken itself (more on that in a minute). While Popeyes has billed the sandwich as one that "can't be surpassed by potential copycats," we were curious how it would stack up to its own in-house competition: the original Fried Chicken Sandwich. 

What makes the Blackened Chicken Sandwich different from the original? 

The Blackened Chicken Sandwich really mirrors its fried counterpart thanks to consistency with toppings and bun, but the chicken is breading-free—which, yes, also means healthier! Hurrah! Popeyes uses the same juicy, antibiotic-free poultry but takes a different approach to prep. The chicken breast is marinated for 12 hours and cooked in bold Cajun and Creole seasoning. 

When can I get the new Blackened Chicken Sandwich at Popeyes? 

Good news! You don't have to wait. The Blackened Chicken Sandwich hit Popeyes stores on Tuesday, November 15.

What does it taste like? 

Just by looking at it, I was impressed. Popeyes isn't skimping you on size just because it's non-breaded. And while the latter fact had me concerned it would disappoint in the crunch department, it packed the perfect crispy texture. At first bite, you get a crisp crust-like experience before sinking your teeth deeper into a thick, juicy bite. While I typically prefer the Spicy Chicken Sandwich, I went with classic to really taste the seasoning—and boy, did it not disappoint. The Cajun and Creole seasoning levels it up with the perfect blend of heat and flavor depth. The pickles add that subtle sweet tang we all know and love of the fried version, while the mayo provides a much-needed cooling effect.

How does it compare to the original Popeyes Fried Chicken Sandwich? 

It's just as good as the original. While different—one has breading, one does not—the Blackened Chicken Sandwich still manages that same crisp yet juicy experience and perfect ingredient pairing we all know and love of the original. The blackened approach also amps up the flavor in a way you won't experience otherwise. You might miss out on the little bit of indulgence that the breaded version brings, but you get added flavor in return. 

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Megan Schaltegger is a Staff Writer on the News team at Thrillist.